- Term Papers and Free Essays

All Quiet On The Western Front

Essay by   •  October 31, 2010  •  11,149 Words (45 Pages)  •  1,466 Views

Essay Preview: All Quiet On The Western Front

Report this essay
Page 1 of 45

All Quiet on the Western Front - Chapter SummaryBy: Jesse CodyAll Quiet on the Western Front is an anti-war novel from the opening chapters. Many critics of the novel in the early days after the publication of the novel blamed Remarque for writing for shock value. They did not want to believe his novel represented the truth about World War I. In many ways, such people were like Paul's schoolmaster, Kantorek. They wanted to cling to classical, romantic notions of war. However, Remarque wrote his novel specifically to shatter those idealistic illusions. Yes, he wrote to shock, but he also wrote to educate.The young teenage men who enlisted in the army on both sides often never recovered from their horrific experiences. They returned home with shattered minds and shattered bodies to an impoverished, ravaged civilian population that often regarded them as unpleasant reminders of a war they wanted to forget. Many civilians were unable to believe that the soldiers suffered horrors far greater than what they had suffered. Many veterans could not talk about their experiences because they were so unspeakable. They were the victims, but they were also the killers. What had been done to them, they had done to others as well. There are a lot of reasons that the generation of men who entered their young adulthood during the war is called "the lost generation."The Great War seemed utterly senseless. Countries slid unknowingly into a conflict they thought would end quickly. They thought the conflict would follow the classical concept of warfare. They were utterly wrong. There was a strict disjunction between the romance of fighting for honor and pride and the nasty, unbelievable wholesale butchery that actually happened. Hundreds and thousands of men died to win a few yards of land only to lose it again in another battle. Once the death toll neared unbelievable proportions, the war continued because civilians and soldiers demanded some justification for the slaughter and the suffering. The stalemate lasted over four years.It is difficult to estimate the scale of The Great War's casualties. Many of the dead were never buried in marked graves. They lay and rotted in the trenches or in the No Man's Land between the trenches. Historians estimate that between nine and twelve million soldiers died in action. Others died from complications from wounds or from disease. Millions more lost arms, legs, or suffered from disfiguring facial wounds. Millions of civilians were killed or starved to death. Many suffered disfiguring wounds from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.Although World War II overshadows World War I, the first World War made the second possible. In some ways, the first war was worse than the second. Before The Great War, no one had any idea what modern warfare meant. The Great War heralded a different kind of fighting. Soldiers rarely saw their enemies face to face when they died. The very distance made the killing easier. On both sides of the conflict, propaganda denied the humanity of the enemy, thus making the killing and maiming more acceptable. Both sides raced to find new, more horrific ways to kill and maim one another. People had a better idea of what to expect when the second war started.No one expected The Great War to be as terrible as it was. Powerful men with their pride and their honor at stake chose to throw away the lives of millions rather than call an end to the stalemate of The Great War. All Quiet on the Western Front is a protest against the betrayal by older, powerful men of the younger, naive generation. Young men enlisted believing they were embarking on an exciting adventure to fight for glory and honor. They thought they would be home by Christmas.All Quiet on the Western Front - Chapters 1-2SummaryPaul and the other members of the Second Company are resting after being relieved from the front lines. When they went to the front, their company contained one hundred and fifty men. Only eighty returned. The quartermaster requested rations for a full company, but on the last day, they suffered a heavy attack. The surviving men receive a double ration of food and tobacco.Paul, Leer, Muller, and Kropp are all nineteen years old. They are all from the same class in school, and they all enlisted voluntarily. Tjaden is the same age, but he is a locksmith. He eats voraciously, but remains thin as a rail. Haie Westhus, also the same age, is an enormously built peat-digger. Detering is a peasant with a wife at home. Katczinksy is the unofficial leader of Paul's small group of comrades. He is a cunning man of forty years of age.Paul remembers that they were embarrassed to use the general latrines when they were recruits. Now, they are a pleasure. Every soldier is intimately acquainted with his stomach and intestines. "Latrine humor" offers the most succinct expression for joy, indignation, and anger. The men settle down to rest, smoke, and play cards. They do not talk about their narrow survival during their last trip to the front. Kemmerich, one of Paul's classmates and a member of the Second Company, is in the hospital with a thigh wound.Paul and his classmates' schoolmaster, Kantorek, urged them to enlist as volunteers to prove their patriotism. Joseph Behm did not want to go, but eventually he gave in to Kantorek's unrelenting pressure. He was one of the first to die, and his death was particularly horrible. With Behm's death, Paul and his classmates lost their innocent trust in figures of authority. Kantorek often writes letters to them filled with the empty phrases of patriotic fervor.They go to see Kemmerich, who is unaware that his leg has been amputated. Paul discerns from his sallow skin that Kemmerich will not live long. Muller wants Kemmerich's boots, but Paul subtly discourages him from pressing on the matter. They will have to keep watch until Kemmerich passes on and take the boots before the orderlies steal them. Paul bribes an orderly with cigarettes to give Kemmerich some morphine for the pain.Paul and the other young men of his generation were cut off from life just as they had begun to love it. The older soldiers have jobs and families to which they can return after the war. They will forget the trenches and the death, but the young men have nothing definite to which they can set their sights. Their past lives are vague, unreal dreams.During the training, Paul and his classmates learned that classical patriotism requires the loss of individuality and personality, a sacrifice that civilians do not require of even the lowest class of servants. Corporal Himmelstoss, formerly a postman, trained Paul's platoon. He is a small, petty man who relentlessly humiliated his recruits, especially Paul, Tjaden, Westhus, and Kropp. Eventually, Paul and the others learned to balk Himmelstoss's authority without outright defiance. Paul knows that the humiliation and the arbitrary



Download as:   txt (63.6 Kb)   pdf (541.1 Kb)   docx (31.5 Kb)  
Continue for 44 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 10). All Quiet On The Western Front. Retrieved 10, 2010, from

"All Quiet On The Western Front" 10 2010. 2010. 10 2010 <>.

"All Quiet On The Western Front.", 10 2010. Web. 10 2010. <>.

"All Quiet On The Western Front." 10, 2010. Accessed 10, 2010.